The Absinthe Literary Review, Book Reviews Spring 2002
B O O K   R E V I E W 

Eros and Thanatos  2002

Lofting by Alma Marceau

Alma Marceau
Studio Loplop, Los Angeles
Publication date: 2000
280 pp.  $19.95



On the whole, Lofting stands as an accomplished piece of erotic fiction. Exploring one woman’s development from lonely post-breakup spinsterette to promising cybervixen to out and out vessel/instrument of physical debauch, it treads upon familiar ground—materially speaking. However, Marceau’s talent and intelligence often serve to elevate the narrative high above the mundane material strictures of the genre. At certain points, her prose seems to throb with a poetic intensity so rarely found in these spare and unimaginative days. The book would be a worthy read for this quality alone. Marceau is obviously hard at work on a balanced, active-language narrative style—a style we applaud and try to encourage at any and every turn. Unfortunately, while Marceau’s poeticism may be a resounding literary Alpha, she occasionally neglects to include a requisite Omicron, Psi, or Chi while pecking pell-mell towards her orgasmic Omega. The characters, though clearly drawn and interesting, suffer from a troubling similitude of voice. Distinguishing one character from the next in dialogue would be nearly impossible were one to dispense with names and/or identifying genitalia. It should be said that the narrative loses only a bit of its luster from this inattention to individual voice, mainly because the characters’ voice/voices are quite intelligent and given to lively banter. In fact, the intellectual interplay of the characters is both the novel’s selling point and its biggest weakness. Often, especially in the transcribed cyber-chat sessions (the introductory and weakest section of the novel), the humor steps beyond a measured use of wit into the realm of the resolutely smug and self-aggrandizing. The barrage of one-liners, horrific puns, and pseudo-second-language terms of endearment could and should have been cut by three-quarters at least. Scads of intellectually brilliant interchanges may fly in some Internet chat rooms, but in fiction they only serve to obfuscate any sense of character continuity, inevitably making the reader detect the author’s voice in the character’s mouth. It’s not that Marceau’s bons mots aren’t funny or even character-appropriate; it’s just that the sheer number of yuk-yuks would be more appropriate for a comedian doing a two-hour set at a polymath convention in the Catskills. For example:              


“Another reason I hate Jung. Except neo-Jung ... and nothing after Harvest.”

“Yeah, Andres. You, me, Ma Barker, and the colored balloons. Anyway, I can tell you’re dying to explain....”

You can practically hear the rim shots, fast and furious. The incessant comedy is at odds with the dramatic development of the narrative and should have been largely jettisoned prior to publication. Drama and comedy can work together when balanced properly, but that delicate balance has not been struck here.  

Despite these minor issues, we can honestly recommend Lofting. The dramatic passages are well-written and involved, and the comic passes are funny; they just don’t compliment each other well. In the end, our biggest disappointment is not with the book itself but with the powers who kept it from becoming the book it could have been. But not to worry: Given her obvious intelligence and amazing command of style, Marceau is clearly a talent to be reckoned with. We like where she’s aiming and look forward to her next novel with great anticipation.  


– CAW –